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   Spatz, Julius; Nunnenkamp, Peter



   Working Paper

   Globalization of the automobile
   industry : traditional locations under
   pressure?
   Kieler Arbeitspapiere, No. 1093


   Provided in cooperation with:
   Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW)




   Suggested citation: Spatz, Julius; Nunnenkamp, Peter (2002) : Globalization of the automobile
   industry : traditional locations under pressure?, Kieler Arbeitspapiere, No. 1093, http://
   hdl.handle.net/10419/2693




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                 Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
                 Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
              Kiel Institute of World Economics
                   Duesternbrooker Weg 120
                     24105 Kiel (Germany)




                      Kiel Working Paper No. 1093

          Globalization of the Automobile Industry
                               -
            Traditional Locations under Pressure?


                                      by
                               Julius Spatz
                            Peter Nunnenkamp




                                January 2002




The responsibility for the contents of the working papers rests with the authors,
not the Institute. Since working papers are of a preliminary nature, it may be
useful to contact the authors of a particular working paper about results or
caveats before referring to, or quoting, a paper. Any comments on working
papers should be sent directly to the authors.
         Globalization of the Automobile Industry –

           Traditional Locations under Pressure? *


Abstract: Even though the automobile industry is technologically advanced, the
increasing integration of low-income countries into the global division of labor has put
competitive pressure on traditional automobile producing countries. New end-producers
emerged in Asia, Latin America as well as Southern and Central Europe. In addition, the
automobile industries of Germany, Japan and the United States engaged in outsourcing of
relatively labor intensive segments of the value chain, especially on a regional level. Our
analysis of the labor market effects of these developments supports the predictions of
trade models: Low-skilled workers and labor intensive subsectors of the automobile
industry in traditional locations suffered deteriorating wage and employment prospects
in the process of globalization. The adjustment to fiercer competition from below
differed considerably between Germany, Japan and the United States. Economic
restructuring was least pronounced in the US automobile industry, largely due to the
resistance of trade unions. As a result, the employment record and the world-market
performance of US automobile producers turned out to be poor compared to their
German and Japanese counterparts.

Key Words: Competitive pressure, outsourcing, specialization profiles, revealed
comparative advantages, relative wages, employment restructuring

JEL classification: F14, L62


Julius Spatz                                 Peter Nunnenkamp
Kiel Institute of World Economics            Kiel Institute of World Economics
Duesternbrooker Weg 120                      Duesternbrooker Weg 120
24105 Kiel                                   24105 Kiel
Phone ++49 431 8814 212                      Phone ++49 431 8814 209
Fax      ++49 431 8814 500                   Fax     ++49 431 8814 500
e-mail: jspatz@ifw.uni-kiel.de               e-mail: nunnenkamp@ifw.uni-kiel.de


*   This paper has been produced as part of the research project „Ursachen und
    Implikationen der Globalisierung am Beispiel der Automobilindustrie“. Funding by
    the Fritz Thyssen Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. We are indebted to Rolf J.
    Langhammer for many helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of the
    paper. We would also like to thank Christiane Gebühr and Michaela Rank for
    excellent research assistance. The usual disclaimer applies.
                                      Table of Contents


I.    INTRODUCTION ................................................................................1

II.   COMPETITION FROM BELOW: STYLIZED FACTS....................3

III. LABOR-MARKET EFFECTS IN TRADITIONAL
      PRODUCTION LOCATIONS...........................................................14

      1.     Theoretical Models on Distributional Effects of Globalization .......... 14

      2.     Intersectoral Distributional Effects .................................................. 16

      3.     Intrasectoral Distributional Effects .................................................. 19

IV. THE ROLE OF STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT ............................31

      1.     Specialization Patterns in the German, Japanese and US
             Automobile Industry ...................................................................... 31

      2.     Relative Price Developments in the German Automobile Industry..... 38

V.    CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................40

LITERATURE ...........................................................................................44
                              List of Tables and Figures

Table 1 —    Regional Distribution of FDI Stocks of the German Automobile
             Industry, 1981–1998.................................................................................... 9
Table 2 —    Wage and Employment Trends in the German, Japanese and US
             Automobile Sector ..................................................................................... 16
Table 3 —    Wage Ratio Between the Automobile Assembly and the
             Production of Automotive Parts and Components.................................. 18
Table 4 —    Import Pressure and Labor-market Developments in the
             Automobile Industry: Correlation Results............................................... 29
Table 5 —    Specialization Profiles: Regression Results for the German,
             Japanese and US Automobile Industry...................................................... 36



Figure 1 —   New Competitors: Share in World Production of Automobiles,
             1980 and 1998.............................................................................................. 7
Figure 2 —   Major New Competitors: Share in World Exports of Automobiles,
             1985–1998 ................................................................................................... 8
Figure 3 —   Imported Inputs of the Automobile Industry in Traditional
             Producer Countries from Low-income Countries, 1978/79 and
             1997/98 (percent) ...................................................................................... 12
Figure 4 —   Wages and Employment in the German, Japanese and US
             Automobile Sector (1978 = 100)............................................................. 20
Figure 5 —   Wages and Employment in Two Subsectors of the German
             Automobile Industry (1978 = 100) .......................................................... 24
Figure 6 —   Wages and Employment in Two Subsectors of the US Automobile
             Industry (1978 = 100)................................................................................ 26
Figure 7 —   RRCA-Index Values of the German, Japanese and US Automobile
             Industry........................................................................................................ 32
Figure 8 —   Price Ratios Between the Automobile Assembly and the
             Production of Automotive Parts and Components in the German
             Automobile Industry (1980 = 100) .......................................................... 38
                                        1



I.    Introduction


In contrast to industries producing labor intensive and standardized goods, the

automobile industry in high-income countries should be among the winners of

globalization. The production of automobiles is relatively human capital intensive

and technologically advanced. Nonetheless, globalization is likely to have an

impact on wages and employment in this industry, too. Trade models predict that

the gains and costs of globalization are unevenly distributed among various

employment groups and various subsectors of any industry, including

automobile production. Especially low-skilled workers and labor intensive

segments of the sectoral value chain should suffer deteriorating wage and

employment prospects because of competitive pressure from low-income

countries.


We study the automobile industries of three major traditional producer countries,

namely Germany, Japan and the United States, in order to test this hypothesis.

The analysis covers the period 1978–1998 and proceeds in three steps. In

Section II, we discuss several aspects of globalization in the automobile industry.

We focus on new competitors which emerged in countries with relatively low

per-capita income. This is because trade models predict that increasing trade

between countries at different levels of economic development should have

relatively pronounced effects on the intrasectoral distribution of income and
                                        2


employment. In addition to new producers and exporters of finished

automobiles, we assess the degree of outsourcing of relatively labor intensive

segments of the value chain undertaken by the automobile industry in traditional

producer countries.


Section III portrays trends in wages and employment in the automobile industry

of Germany, Japan and the United States since the late 1970s. We stress that

intersectoral wage premia of the automobile industry, relative to total

manufacturing, must not be confused with the intrasectoral distributional effects

of globalization. The latter are captured by the development of the wage ratio for

low-skilled (production) workers versus high-skilled (non-production) workers

and the development of the sectoral human capital intensity (proxied by the

number of non-production workers per production worker). We then correlate

the intrasectoral wage and employment trends with variables reflecting the

intensity of international competition. The predictions of trade models are largely

supported for Germany and Japan, but rejected for the United States.


Against this background, Section IV inquires more deeply into globalization-

induced restructuring processes in the three traditional producer countries. We

calculate a measure of revealed comparative advantage, which suggests that the

US automobile industry was badly prepared to cope with competitive pressure

from below. Next we run simple OLS regressions to evaluate the stability of
                                         3


production patterns in the automobile industry and its degree of specialization.

We find that trade unions resisted economic restructuring in the US automobile

industry. In Section V, we conclude that the employment record and the world-

market performance of the automobile industry in traditional producer countries

critically depends on the intensity and timeliness of economic adjustment to

fiercer competition from below.



II.   Competition from Below: Stylized Facts


The question to which extent automobile production has become globalized may

be assessed by referring to UNCTAD's transnationality index. This index is

calculated as the average of three ratios, namely the share of a company's foreign

assets to total assets, its overseas sales to total sales, and its employment abroad

to total employment (UNCTAD 1999). It may come as a surprise that, according

to the transnationality index, the automobile industry of traditional producer

countries is less internationalized than various other industries, including food

production, chemicals and electronics (ibid.: 83).


Nevertheless, the automobile industry is typically considered to be at the

forefront of globalization. Evidence supporting this view includes:
                                        4


• the intricate network of alliances and cross-shareholdings among automobile

   companies, within nations and regions but also between regions (Vickery

   1996);


• intensified M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activities in the 1990s, involving

   both end-producers and automotive input suppliers (PricewaterhouseCoopers

   2000; World Trade Agenda 2000);


• the trend towards technologically motivated cooperation agreements, which

   was caused, inter alia, by end-producers entering into new forms of

   partnerships for the design of principal components and subsystems

   (UNCTAD 1998: 25 f.);


• and the significant role of intra-firm trade, e.g. of US-based automobile

   multinationals (UNCTAD 1999: 443).


All these indicators do not reveal, however, whether new competitors from

countries with relatively low per-capita income have become integrated into the

international division of labor in the automobile industry. This element of

globalization is of utmost importance for analyzing the labor market implications

of globalization in traditional producer countries. Labor market effects should be

relatively benign as long as international relations remain restricted to intra-

industry trade between countries that are similarly advanced economically and
                                          5


characterized by comparable factor endowments. By contrast, competition from

below, i.e., from considerably less advanced countries with an abundant

endowment of less qualified labor is expected to cause significant adjustment

pressure, especially on less qualified automobile workers in high-income

countries.


At first sight, the automobile industry seems badly suited to study the

consequences of fiercer competition from below. The industry as a whole is

technologically advanced and relatively human capital intensive (Heitger et al.

1999; Vickery 1996).1 As a consequence, automobile production continues to be

dominated by high-income countries, accounting for about 70 percent of world

production. However, subsectors of the automobile industry differ considerably

in terms of factor intensities. In Germany, for instance, the ratio of workers to

sales was 2.5 times as high in the production of autoparts as in the production of

automobiles and engines (VDA b, var. issues). Hence, outsourcing, the

fragmentation of value chains and the integration of low-income countries into the

international division of labor are reasonable options in this industry, too. Put

differently, relatively labor intensive segments of this industry and less qualified

workers are likely to be negatively affected by the emergence of new



1   For instance, R&D expenditure amounted to 12 percent of value added in the German
    automobile industry in the mid-1990s, twice as much as in total manufacturing (Weiß
    2000).
                                        6


competitors, even though the automobile industry of high-income countries as a

whole should be among the winners of globalization.


New competitors comprise end-producers and input suppliers from countries

with relatively low per-capita income; in addition to developing and newly

industrializing countries, Eastern and Central European transition countries and

the so-called EU-periphery (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) belong to this

income category. Considering the most important producers of automobiles

among low-income countries, Figure 1 reveals rising market shares especially for

end-producers located in Asia and in Southern and Central Europe. As a

corollary, the share of high-income industrial countries declined by almost 10

percentage points since 1980.


This shift in worldwide production of automobiles towards low-income countries

only partly reflects increased competitive pressure from below. New suppliers

such as China expanded the production of automobiles for serving protected

local markets, while lacking international competitiveness. However, several new

suppliers, including Mexico, South Korea and Spain were quite successful in

penetrating world automobile markets. In the second half of the 1990s, the

countries listed in Figure 2 accounted for almost a quarter of world exports of

automobiles, thereby nearly doubling their export share within a decade.
                                            7


Figure 1 —         New Competitors: Share in World Production of Automobiles,
                   1980 and 1998
         percent
         10
          9                  8.2
                                                    7.6
          8
                                                                          6.6
          7
          6                                                      5.0
                      4.9
          5
          4
          3
          2                               1.2
          1
          0
                        Europe a                Asia b           Latin America c

                                   1980                   1998




aCzech Rep., Hungary, Poland, Spain. – bPR China (1983 instead of 1980), India, South
Korea. – c Argentina, Brazil, Mexico.

Source: VDA (a, var. issues).




Taking recent developments into account, Figure 2 tends to understate the

competitive pressure from new automobile production locations. Automobile

production in Brazil was traditionally restricted to serving local (or at best

regional) markets, but its world-market orientation is likely to become stronger.

Investment projects initiated since the mid-1990s indicate that automobile

multinationals are changing strategy as a response to liberalized import policies in

Brazil (Inter-American Development Bank and Institute for European-Latin

American Relations 1996: 41; The Economist 2000: 66). Furthermore, while

comparable data are lacking for exports from Central European locations, some
                                                 8


suppliers in this region have clearly emerged as internationally competitive

exporters recently. Notably in the Czech Republic, automobile production has

become integrated into the value chains of automobile multinationals, as before in

Mexico and Spain (Richet and Bourassa 2000).



Figure 2 —     Major New Competitors: Share in World Exports of Automobiles,
               1985–1998a

         percent
        12
                                                                                       10.4
        10                                                                     8.7
         8
                                                                   6.3
                                                                         5.5
         6                                     4.7
         4                            2.9                   3.1
                                                     2.7
             1.6     1.7    1.8
         2

         0
             85/89 90/94 95/98 85/89 90/94 95/98 85/89 90/94 95/98 85/89 90/94 95/98

                   Brazil             Mexico               South Korea         Spain



aPeriod averages; missing values for Mexico: 1985–1991 and 1993; South Korea: 1985.
World exports approximated by the sum of exports of relevant exporters as given in
VDA.

Source: VDA (b, var. issues); American Automobile Manufacturers Association (1998;
        for Brazil 1985–1992); Auto & Truck International (var. issues; for Mexico).




The emergence of new producers and exporters of automobiles was frequently

due to foreign direct investment (FDI) in low-income countries by multinational

companies. For example, low-income countries taken together hosted almost half

of total FDI stocks held by the German automobile industry prior to the
                                            9


DaimlerChrysler merger in 1998 (Table 1). In the early 1980s, Latin America

represented the by far most important host region for German automobile

companies. In the process of forming the European Single Market, Spain

attracted substantial FDI by the German automobile industry. More recently, this

industry grasped new investment opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe. In

the late 1990s, FDI stocks held in this region were of a similar magnitude as FDI

stocks held in the EU-periphery.


Table 1 —       Regional Distribution of FDI Stocks of the German Automobile
                Industry, 1981–1998
                                  1981 1985         1990    1994     1997    1998
EU                                25.8 a 27.4 a     47.5    45.7     40.6    21.9
thereof:
– EU-peripheryb                   10.8      7.6     24.4     14.5    11.3      7.7
other industrial countries        21.4 c   37.5 c   20.0     14.9    21.2     52.7
developing and transition
countries
– total                           52.8     35.0     32.5     39.4     38.2    25.5
– Africa                          10.6 d    3.6 d    5.8      3.7      2.1     1.3
– America                         40.4     28.8     23.3     26.3     20.3    12.7
– Asiae                             n.a.    n.a.     1.0      1.1      0.7     0.4
– transition countries f            n.a.    n.a.     2.5      8.4     15.1    11.1
                                                                      (4.5) g (2.9) g
a Excluding Sweden. – b Ireland, Portugal and Spain; 1981–1990: only Spain; 1994
and 1997: Portugal and Spain. – c Including Sweden. – d Rep. of South Africa and
Nigeria. – e Excluding China. – f Including China. – g China in brackets.
Source: Deutsche Bundesbank (var. issues).




The crucial role of FDI notwithstanding, the automobile industry of new

competitors developed under strikingly different conditions. In China, which

opened up to FDI in the process of market-related reforms starting in the late
                                         10


1970s, automobile production continues to be dominated by national companies

(VDAa 1999: 68 pp.). Korea set up an indigenous automobile industry

(Daewoo/Ssangyong and Hyundai/Kia) which successfully penetrated world

markets. In contrast to Mexico and Spain, Korea's exports of automobiles were

not focused on neighboring high-income countries, but regionally diversified.2

As a consequence, traditional producers were affected by competitive pressure

from Korea both in their home markets and in third markets, including in the

developing world.


On the other hand, the development of an indigenous automobile industry

rendered it more difficult for Korea to become integrated into global sourcing

networks of automobile multinationals. Apart from assembling automobiles,

locations such as Mexico, Spain and Central European countries increasingly

supplied traditional producer countries with automotive parts and components.

In other words, competition from below goes beyond world-market oriented

assembly operations in low-income countries and extends to imports of

automotive inputs.




2   In 1998, Europe absorbed 48 percent of Korean exports of automobiles, 31 percent
    went to America (two thirds of which were exported to the United States and
    Canada), and about one fifth were destined to Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania
    (VDAa).
                                      11


Figure 3 shows that low-income countries have become relevant suppliers of

automotive inputs for the automobile industries of Germany, Japan and the

United States. According to detailed country studies, trade in automotive inputs

with low-income countries expanded particularly on the regional level (Diehl

2001):


• In the case of the US automobile industry, a rising share of imports of

   engines, electrical equipment and other parts and accessories originated from

   Mexico.


• For the Japanese automobile industry, other Asian countries represented the

   most important (low-income) suppliers of automotive inputs.


• Apart from high-income European neighbors, the EU-periphery was the most

   important supplier of electrical equipment to the German automobile industry.

   Since the mid-1990s, this industry imported a steeply rising share of engines

   from Central European countries.


Measured by the share of imports from major low-income trading partners in

total imports of automotive inputs, competitive pressure from below appears to

be similarly advanced in all three traditional producer countries (Figure 3).

However, imports from all sources contributed significantly less to domestic
                                     12


absorption of the automobile industry in Japan than in Germany and the United

States (Diehl 2001).
                                           13



Figure 3 —     Imported Inputs of the Automobile Industry in Traditional
               Producer Countries from Low-income Countries a, 1978/79 and
               1997/98b (percent)

             40




             30



             20



             10



              0
                       Germany             Japan             United States
                                 1978/79           1997/98




aShare in total imported inputs; inputs considered here comprise parts and accessories
(SITC 784), electrical equipment (SITC 778.3) and motors (SITC 713.2). Low-income
trading partners of Germany include the EU-periphery, Turkey, and Central and Eastern
Europe; low-income trading partners of Japan and the United States include Asia and
Latin America. – bAnnual averages.

Source: OECD (2000).




All in all, the evidence suggests that traditional automobile producing countries

have been subjected to increasing competitive pressure from new locations in

low-income countries. Countries such as Mexico, Spain and the Czech Republic

emerged as competitive suppliers of both finished automobiles and automotive

parts. Other countries, notably Korea, focused on penetrating world markets for

finished automobiles. All three traditional producer countries considered here
                                        14


were affected, even though imports of automotive inputs remained less important

for Japan than for Germany and the United States. Hence, the stylized facts let us

expect adverse labor market implications of fiercer competition from below for

low-skilled workers in all traditional automobile producing countries.



III. Labor-Market Effects in Traditional Production Locations


1.   Theoretical Models on Distributional Effects of Globalization


The links between the globalization of the world economy and changes in relative

factor prices have long been discussed in the theoretical literature. With regard to

the intrasectoral dimension of income inequality, i.e., wage differentials between

workers of different skill levels in the same sector, there are two basic models. In

the Heckscher-Ohlin model, the liberalization of international trade in final goods

causes a restructuring towards the relatively human capital intensive sectors in

high-income countries. High-skilled workers gain relative to low-skilled workers,

both in wages and employment (Stolper, Samuelson 1941). This is because more

high-skilled workers per low-skilled worker are required for the expansion of

human capital intensive sectors than are released in the contraction of labor

intensive sectors. In the Feenstra-Hanson model, the liberalization of foreign

direct investment and international trade in intermediate goods enables high-

income countries to outsource relatively labor intensive segments of the value
                                         15


chain to low-income countries (Feenstra, Hanson 2001). Hence, like in the

Heckscher-Ohlin model, the labor market situation of low-skilled workers in high-

income countries is expected to deteriorate.


With regard to the intersectoral dimension of income inequality, i.e., wage

differentials between workers of the same skill level in different sectors, there are

also two basic models to explain globalization-induced distributional effects. In

rent-sharing models 3, firms and unions bargain over sector-specific rents. The

greater these rents and the greater the union bargaining power, the higher the

sectoral wage level. Opening up to international trade erodes the market power of

incumbent firms and, hence, the sector-specific rents in once protected sectors.

Furthermore, the exit-option of capital and know-how in liberalized factor

markets curtails the bargaining power of unions. Therefore, the rent-sharing

models predict a decline in the sectoral wage levels in the course of globalization

in those sectors where import penetration rises and where firms can easily move

production to low-income countries.


In efficiency-wage models, firms do not regard wages as exogenous but use

them as a motivation instrument to increase labor productivity. Workers receive a

sectoral mark-up on their reservation wage. The size of this mark-up is positively

related to the strength of the relationship between wages and labor productivity,


3   For a comprehensive survey of rent-sharing models see Oswald (1985).
                                           16


which in turn depends on the capital and technology intensity (according to the

shirking and the labor-turnover approach)4 and on the average profitability of

the firms in the sector (according to the gift-exchange approach). The higher

these variables, the stronger the wage-productivity relationship. Hence, the

efficiency-wage models suggest that high wages can be paid only in those sectors

which can maintain their international competitiveness by specializing in human

capital intensive segments of the value chain.


2.    Intersectoral Distributional Effects


The analysis of the intersectoral dimension of globalization-induced distributional

effects proceeds in two steps. First, we trace the development of wages and

employment in the German, Japanese and US automobile industry relative to the

total manufacturing sector of the respective country. Second, we perform the

same analysis for important subsectors of the automobile industry.


The automobile industry is characterized by a higher-than-average capital and

technology intensity. Furthermore, the development and manufacturing of

automobiles requires increasing R&D and involves significant fixed costs

(Vickery 1996). Hence, it is not surprising that the average earnings of automobile




4    The different approaches to explain the positive wage-productivity relationship are
     presented in Akerlof and Yellen (1986).
                                         17


workers are significantly higher than those of workers in total manufacturing

(Table 2).


Table 2 — Wage and Employment Trends in the German, Japanese and US
          Automobile Industry
                                                      Germany     Japana    United
                                                                            States
Average earnings (total manufacturing = 100)
     1978–1982b                                          117       124        135
     1995–1999b                                          121       129        133c
Employment (percentage share of total
manufacturing)
      1978–1982b                                         9.2        2.6       4.0
      1995–1999b                                        11.3        2.5       4.6 c
a Transport equipment. – b Unweighted average. – c 1994–1996.

Source: Bartelsman and Gray (1996), Ministry of Finance (var. issues), Statistisches
        Bundesamt (var. issues).




In Germany and Japan, the intersectoral wage differential increased over the last

20 years, while it slightly decreased (albeit from a very high level) in the United

States. According to efficiency-wage models, this development may reflect that

the German and Japanese automobile industries were more successful in adapting

to globalization by outsourcing labor intensive segments of the value chain to

low-income countries.5 At the same time, the employment share of the

automobile industry in total manufacturing increased in Germany and the United


5   As shown below, the high wage premium in the United States does not mean that this
    country was best prepared to deal with fiercer competition from below.
                                          18


States but remained fairly stable in Japan. In the case of the United States, the

ostensibly favourable employment trend is, however, mainly due to a seriously

depressed starting point. The US automobile industry was hit especially hard by

the recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which it shed 27 percent

of its production workers and 18 percent of its non-production workers.


The overall favorable wage and employment situation in the automobile industries

of Germany, Japan and the United States does not rule out that some of their

subsectors lost out in the course of globalization. Both Heckscher-Ohlin and

Feenstra-Hanson models suggest that labor intensive subsectors should be

especially vulnerable to competitive pressure from low-income countries. This

hypothesis is corroborated by the development of the wage ratio between the

relative human capital intensive automobile assembly and the relatively labor

intensive production of automotive parts and components (Table 3). 6


Table 3 — Wage Ratio between the Automobile Assembly a and the Production
          of Automotive Parts and Components
                                                       Germany      Japan     United
                                                                              States

       1990                                              1.18       1.14       1.28
       1995                                              1.16       1.15       1.42
       2001                                              1.18b      1.23        n.a.


6   In the United States, the production of automotive parts and components requires 3.7
    times as many workers per revenue unit than the automobile assembly. In Germany,
    the ratio is 2.5.
                                          19


a Germany: automobiles and motors; Japan: automobiles; US: cars and car bodies. – b
1999.
Source: Bartelsman und Gray (1996), Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers'
        Unions (JAW) (unpublished data), Statistisches Bundesamt (var. issues).



As expected, this wage ratio increased significantly over the last 10 years in Japan

and the United States. In the German automobile industry, by contrast, workers

in labor intensive subsectors did not incur income losses relative to their peers in

human capital intensive subsectors. The different experience of Germany is

striking as all three countries were hit by competitive pressure from low-income

countries.7 The fairly stable wage ratio may be explained in two alternative ways:

Either the intersectoral wage structure8 in Germany is less flexible, or German

producers of automotive parts and components adapted more successfully to

globalization. This issue is taken up again in Section IV.


3.    Intrasectoral Distributional Effects


In order to assess the impact of globalization on the intrasectoral dimension of

income distribution, we compare recent wage and employment trends of low-

skilled and high-skilled automobile workers in Germany, Japan and the United




7    See Section II.

8    As mentioned before, the term intersectoral is also used when comparing different
     subsectors within the automobile industry.
                                       20


States. Using correlation techniques, we subsequently link the changes in the

human capital intensity and the relative wage of low-skilled workers to the

changes in import penetration in various subsectors of the automobile industry.

Since data on schooling, professional training and work experience are not

available at this level of sectoral disaggregation, we use the dichotomy of

production versus non-production workers as a rough proxy for the qualification

                n
level. As usual i the relevant literature, we assume that non-production workers

are more highly qualified than production workers.


In the German automobile industry, employment increased steadily from 1978 to

1991 (Figure 4). The post-unification recession was a severe blow to this

industry, however, almost entirely wiping out the employment gains achieved

since 1978. In 1994, the sector stabilized and subsequently returned to its pre-

unification employment growth path. Despite the positive overall employment

trend, the labor market situation of low-skilled workers deteriorated. First, the

sectoral human capital intensity increased strongly throughout the observation




Figure 4 —    Wages and Employment in the German, Japanese and US
              Automobile Industry (1978 = 100)
Germanya
                                                       21


 160
                                                                                             b
                                                                     Human Capital Intensity
 140

 120
                                                                               Employment
 100
                                                                          c
                                    Relative Wage of Production Workers
  80
    1978   1980    1982     1984       1986     1988        1990   1992       1994    1996       1998


Japand

 160

 140

 120

 100

  80
    1978   1980    1982     1984       1986     1988        1990   1992       1994    1996       1998


United States

 140

 120

 100

  80

  60
    1978    1980     1982       1984          1986      1988       1990        1992     1994            1996


aWest Germany. – bNumber of non-production workers divided by number of production
workers. – cRatio between the average wage of production workers and the average wage
of non-production workers. – dTransport equipment.

Source: Bartelsman and Gray (1996); Ministry of Finance (var. issues); Statistisches
        Bundesamt (var. issues).
                                         22


period; essentially all employment gains accrued to high-skilled workers.9

Second, the relative wage of low-skilled workers fell steadily, i.e., the wages of

low-skilled automobile workers developed less favorably than those of their high-

skilled peers.


The Japanese automobile industry experienced strong employment growth with

an average annual growth rate of 2.7 percent until 1995. In the two consecutive

years, employment declined sharply but stabilized afterwards. In contrast to

Germany, low-skilled automobile workers in Japan did not lose relative to their

high-skilled peers until 1991. Neither did the human capital intensity increase nor

did the relative wage of low-skilled workers exhibit a negative trend. Only later

did employment prospects of low-skilled workers deteriorate noticeably as

evidenced by a rising human capital intensity. All the more surprisingly, their

income situation improved with relative wages of low-skilled workers rising

steeply since 1994. It points to institutional rigidities in the wage-setting

procedure that the Japanese labor-market response to increased competition




9   While employment of high-skilled workers increased by 50.4 percent, the number of
    low-skilled jobs rose by merely 1.5 percent.
                                          23


from low-income countries is only partly in line with the Stolper-Samuelson

theorem (see below). 10


The employment situation in the US automobile industry was dominated by the

two recessions at the beginning of the 1980s and the 1990s. During the first

recession, employment shrank dramatically and, despite employment growth in

the mid 1980s and 1990s, employment has never since recovered its 1978 level.

The peaks in human capital intensity during the two recessions show that low-

skilled workers were more severely affected by layoffs than high-skilled workers.

However, in contrast to Germany, low-skilled workers regained their initial

employment share after the recessions. Consequently, there is no upward trend in

human capital intensity.


The development of the relative wage of low-skilled workers in the US

automobile industry is quite surprising. In contrast to total manufacturing, the

relative wage did not fall but remained above its 1978 level throughout the entire

observation period. The lack of adjustment according to the Stolper-Samuelson

theorem together with the fall in sectoral employment cast considerable doubt on




10 Another explanation would be that labor supply shifted towards higher qualifications.
   Data constraints prevent us from evaluating the relative importance of this
   possibility.
                                          24


whether the much heralded US labor-market flexibility can be found in the

automobile industry. 11


Germany and the United States offer more disaggregated data, which can be

used to analyze globalization-induced adjustment processes in important

subsectors of the automobile industry. 12 In the German automobile industry, the

most striking difference between the automobile assembly and the production of

automotive parts and components concerns the development of human capital

intensities (Figure 5). The human capital intensity increased steadily in automobile

assembly over the last 20 years, while it remained basically unchanged in the

1980s and increased only afterwards in the production of automotive parts and

components. The different timing of adjustment may be attributed to high

transportation cost for automotive parts and components and their use in just-in-

time production. Shipping these inputs from distant low-income locations

seemed          too        costly        and         risky         for        German




11 According to the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, relative price changes constitute the
   link between product and labor markets. Data on relative price developments are not
   available for the US (and Japan) automobile industry; for Germany, see Section IV.2.

12 In order to keep our discussion within reasonable limits, we confine it to the
   relatively human capital intensive automobile assembly and the relatively labor
   intensive production of automotive parts and components.
                                                   25


Figure 5 —        Wages and Employment in Two Subsectors of the German
                  Automobile Industry (1978 = 100)

Automobile Assemblya


 160
                                                                                             b
                                                                      Human Capital Intensity
 140

 120
                                                                           Employment

 100
                                                                  c
                            Relative Wage of Production Workers
  80
    1978   1980    1982   1984    1986      1988        1990   1992         1994      1996       1998



Production of Automotive Parts and Components


 160

 140

 120

 100

  80
    1978   1980    1982   1984    1986      1988        1990   1992         1994      1996       1998


aAutomobiles and motors. – bNumber of non-production workers divided by number of
production workers. – cRatio between the average wage of production workers and the
average wage of non-production workers.

Source: Statistisches Bundesamt (var. issues).
                                           26


automobile manufacturers.13 Only the opening-up of the geographically closer

Central European transition countries in the 1990s triggered a comprehensive

restructuring process in this subsector.


The comparison of employment trends in the two subsectors in the 1990s reveals

that globalization-induced restructuring does not necessarily imply mass layoffs.

Despite the sharp increase in the subsectoral human capital intensity (or perhaps

because of it), German producers of automotive parts and components

noticeably increased their workforce after the post-unification recession. As

discussed further below, the critical question is whether firms are successful in

maintaining their international competitiveness by specializing in human capital

intensive segments of the value chain.


Employment in the two subsectors of the US automobile industry evolved

virtually identically until 1984 (Figure 6). Subsequently, the two subsectors took

different paths. In automobile assembly, a downward trending human capital

intensity was accompanied by falling employment. The opposite holds true in the

production of automotive parts and components. Lacking adjustment




13 Nunnenkamp (1998: Table 5) has shown that imports of automotive parts by the
   German automobile industry from distant locations such as Brazil, Mexico, China
   and South Korea remained low compared to imports from closer trading partners
   such as Spain and the Czech Republic.
                                                      27


Figure 6 —       Wages and Employment in Two Subsectors of the US Automobile
                 Industry (1978 = 100)

Automobile Assemblya

140                                               b
                           Human Capital Intensity                       Relative Wage of
120                                                                                         c
                                                                       Production Workers

100

 80          Employment


 60
   1978   1980      1982        1984       1986        1988   1990   1992      1994         1996


Production of Automotive Parts and Components


140

120

100

 80

 60
   1978   1980      1982        1984       1986        1988   1990   1992      1994         1996


aCars and car bodies. – bNumber of non-production workers divided by number of
production workers. – cRatio between the average wage of production workers and the
average wage of non-production workers.

Source: Bartelsman and Gray (1996).




to increased international competition offers an explanation for the poor

employment performance of the first subsector. Due to high unionization and

militant labor disputes, no restructuring towards human capital intensive products

took place and the relative wage of production workers was prevented from
                                           28


declining.14 All this eroded the international competitiveness of the US

automobile manufacturers.


In order to assess more systematically the impact of international competition on

the labor market situation of low-skilled automobile workers, we correlate the

intrasectoral wage and employment ratios with some indicators reflecting the

intensity of international competition. As a first indicator, we use the share of

imports in overall production (MP). 15 However, the labor market outcome of

increasing international trade should depend on the relative income level of the

trading partners. Trade models predict that increasing trade between similarly

advanced countries with similar relative factor endowments should have smaller

intrasectoral distributional effects than increasing trade between countries with

different relative factor endowments. Hence, we also run correlations with the

share of imports from low-income countries in overall imports (MLC).

According to the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, MP and MLC should be related

positively with the human capital intensity (HN) and negatively with the relative

wage of low-skilled workers (RW).



14 For instance, the dispute between Caterpillar and the UAW on the introduction of
   more flexible labor contracts began in 1991 and was not resolved till march 1998
   (The Economist 1998).

15 Subsectoral terms of trade were not available at this level of sectoral disaggregation;
   calculating unit values from the ITCS Database (OECD 2000) rendered meaningless
   results.
                                        29


As concerns the German automobile industry, all correlation coefficients have the

expected sign and are highly significant (Table 4). 16 Similarly strong results are

achieved when running the correlations for the two above mentioned subsectors.

These results imply that the entire sector adjusted to globalization by specializing

in human capital intensive products and by outsourcing labor intensive segments

of the value chain to low-income countries. Even though the trends in human

capital intensities portrayed above suggested that adjustment in the production of

automotive parts and components gathered momentum only in the 1990s, most

correlation coefficients turn out to be stronger in this subsector. This indicates

that the intensity of adjustment was particularly pronounced.


Japan resembles Germany with respect to the globalization-induced effects on the

human capital intensity. Rising imports and a rising import share from low-

income countries went along with deteriorating employment prospects of low-

skilled workers. By contrast, the correlation coefficients between the proxies for

international competition and the relative wage of low-skilled workers are not

significant. This suggests that the intrasectoral wage effects were blurred by other

factors. In the Japanese automobile industry, the increase in human capital

intensity was achieved mainly by reducing the intake of new low-skilled workers




16 The period of observation differs between the three countries under consideration
   due to availability of consistent time-series data.
                                          30


rather than by laying off those employed.17 As a consequence, the average job

tenure of low-skilled workers increased disproportionately. In combination with

the principle of seniority in wage setting, this modus operandi counteracted a rise

in the skill premium.



Table 4 —      Import Pressure and Labor market Developments in the
               Automobile Industry: Correlation Results a
 Correlations                       Germany             Japanb        United States
 Automobile Industry
 MP ~ HN                              0.82**            0.52**            0.14
 MP ~ RW                             -0.82**           -0.25              0.39
 MLC ~ HN                             0.91**            0.74**           -0.32
 MLC ~ RW                            -0.84**            0.20             -0.07
 Automobile Assembly
 MP ~ HN                              0.75**              n.a.           -0.13
 MP ~ RW                             -0.74**              n.a.            0.48*
 MLC ~ HN                             0.88**              n.a.           -0.73**
 MLC ~ RW                            -0.85**              n.a.           -0.07
 Production of Automotive
 Parts and Components
 MP ~ HN                              0.91**              n.a.            0.08
 MP ~ RW                             -0.88**              n.a.           -0.20
 MLC ~ HN                             0.94**              n.a.            0.27
 MLC ~ RW                            -0.81**              n.a.           -0.34
 a *(**) significant at 5 percent level (1 percent); number of observations:
 Germany=22, Japan=28, United States=17. – bTransport equipment.
Source: Bartelsman and Gray (1996); Feenstra (1996); Ministry of Finance (var. issues);
        Ministry of Labor (var. issues); Statistisches Bundesamt (var. issues).




17 By contrast, German automobile producers mainly resorted to early retirement of
   redundant low-skilled workers.
                                        31


In the United States, the two subsectors of the automobile industry responded

differently to globalization. In the production of automotive parts and

components, the signs of the correlation coefficients, though insignificant,

suggest that some Stolper-Samuelson-type adjustment may have occurred. This

appears to have helped the subsector to recover from the severe crisis in the

beginning of the 1980s. By contrast, growing international competition went

along with a falling human capital intensity and a rising relative wage of low-

skilled workers in automobile assembly. At the same time, overall employment

declined rapidly, which appears to be the cost of the subsector's failure to adjust.

Low labor-market flexibility in this highly unionized subsector is most likely to

blame.



IV. The Role of Structural Adjustment


1.   Specialization Patterns in the German, Japanese and US Automobile

     Industry


Despite being exposed to a similarly strong competitive pressure from low-

income countries, the wage and employment trends in the German, Japanese and

US automobile industry in the 1980s and 1990s differed considerably. This

suggests that the labor market implications of globalization in traditional producer

countries depend to a large extent on how these countries adjusted to
                                         32


globalization. The challenge for the traditional producer countries consists of

specializing in human capital intensive and technologically advanced segments of

the value chain. Such an adjustment strategy can help maintain high wages and

high employment. In this section, we inquire more deeply into the nature of

globalization-induced adjustment processes in the German, Japanese and US

automobile industry. We first track the evolution of international competitiveness

by calculating revealed comparative advantage (RCA) index values for the

automobile industries since 1978. Based on subsectoral RCA-index values, we

then use a simple OLS-regression model to estimate the direction and strength of

the changes in their specialization patterns.18


We consider the widely used RCA-index


               Xi − M i
(1)   RCAi =            ,
               Xi + M i

which relates the net exports of sector i, X i − M i , to the sectoral trade volume,

X i + M i . In order to estimate the international competitiveness of sector i




18 According to Ballance et al. (1987), RCA indices can be classified into two
   categories: trade-cum-production indices and trade-only indices. As the name
   suggests, the former are based on both trade and production data and the latter on
   trade data only. Since compatible trade and production data are not available at a
   subsectoral level of disaggregation, we had to confine our analysis to trade-only
   indices.
                                                  33


relative to the total manufacturing sector, we calculate the relative revealed

comparative advantage (RRCA) index by adjusting RCAi according to


                               X −M
(2)      RRCAi = RCAi −             ,
                               X+M
where X and M denote the exports and imports of the total manufacturing

sector. 19



Figure 7 —          RRCA-Index Values of the German, Japanese and US Automobile
                    Industry
  1.0
  1,0
  0.8
  0,8
  0.6
  0,6
  0,4
  0.4
  0.2
  0,2
  0.0
  0,0
  -0,2
  -0.2
  -0.4
  -0,4
  -0.6
  -0,6
      1978   1980    1982   1984   1986   1988   1990   1992     1994     1996   1998   2000
                            Germany           Japan            United States



Source: OECD (2000).




Judging by their relative factor endowments, advanced countries should have a

comparative advantage in the relatively human capital intensive and

technologically advanced automobile industry. This notion is corroborated for


19 For an alternative adjustment see Neven (1995).
                                              34


Germany and Japan (Figure 7). In both countries the RRCA-index values of the

automobile industry were positive throughout the entire observation period, i.e.,

this sector was internationally more competitive than the total manufacturing

sector. Yet, the decline in the RRCA-index values in the 1980s reveals that these

countries were not left unscathed by the growing competition from low-income

countries. By contrast, RRCA-index values were persistently negative for the US

automobile industry. The substantial wage premium of this industry, reported in

Table 2, was thus not backed by high international competitiveness. We suspect

these differences in international competitiveness are because the US automobile

industry failed to adjust to globalization by shifting towards its “natural”

specialization profile. 20 In order to validate this hypothesis, we use the simple

OLS-regression model


(3)   RRCA j , t1 = α + β ⋅ RRCA j , t 0 + εij ,

which regresses the RRCA-index of subsector j


                    Xj −Mj
(4)    RRCA j =                    − RCAi
                    Xj +M      j




20 By „natural“ specialization profile, we mean the profile that is consistent with the
   relative factor endowment of the country.
                                          35


at time t1 on the RRCA-index of the same subsector at time t0.21


Estimates of the correlation coefficient β allow us to derive assertions on the

                                                                               ˆ
stability of the specialization profile within the automobile industry. 22 For β ≥ 1 ,

the initial specialization profile strengthened over time, i.e., subsectors with a high

international competitiveness at time t0 became even more competitive while the

                                                          ˆ
other subsectors lost further ground in world markets. If β lies within the range

                                                            ˆ
(0,1), the initial specialization pattern weakened, and for β < 0 , it even turned

around. Additionally, we can analyze changes in the degree of specialization.

Under the standard assumptions of the OLS-regression model, the following

relation between the variances of the RRCA indices at time t0 and t1, σ t2 und
                                                                         1



σ t2 , the correlation coefficient β , and the coefficient of determination R 2
  0


holds:


      σ t2       β2
(5)      1
             =        .
      σ t2       R2
         0




21 RCAi stands for the automobile industry as a whole. Here, we are interested in
   globalization-induced changes in the specialization profile within the automobile
   industry. Hence, we calculate the RRCA index relative to the automobile industry,
   rather than the manufacturing sector.

22 For a detailed exposition of the methodology see Cantwell (1989) and Dalum et al.
   (1998).
                                         36


                                                        ˆ   ˆ
The degree of specialization increases from t0 to t1 if β > R , and decreases if

ˆ   ˆ
β < R.


From an economic point of view, a stable specialization profile and a high degree

of specialization are positive if (and only if) the sector was already structured in

line with its “natural” specialization profile at time t0. In this case, workers can

accumulate firm-specific human capital and firms benefit from cumulative

innovations and economies of scale, thereby sharpening the competitive edge of

the whole sector. However, a stable specialization profile may also be outcome

of lacking labor market flexibility or protectionist measures in international trade.

In this case, the overall competitiveness of the sector suffers, eventually resulting

in a decline in wages and employment.


The regression analysis is carried out separately for the German, Japanese and

US automobile industry. We use three-year averages of the RRCA-index values

around 1979, 1988 and 1997 in order to reduce the influence of the business

                                                  ˆ       ˆ ˆ
cycle on the estimation results. The estimates of β , and β / R over the entire

observation period (“long-run”) and the two subperiods 1978-1989 and 1987-

1998 (“medium-run”) are presented in Table 5.
                                         37


Table 5 — Specialization Profiles: Regression Results for the German, Japanese
          and US Automobile Industry
                       1978–1998              1978–1989           1987–1998
                       ˆ
                       β       ˆ ˆ
                               β/R            ˆ
                                              β      ˆ ˆ
                                                     β/R          ˆ
                                                                  β        ˆ ˆ
                                                                           β/R


Germany            0.66*   1.40          0.72** 0.99           1.04** 1.41
Japan              3.81*   7.24          0.50    1.92          1.25    3.77
United States      0.38*†† 0.68         0.72**†† 0.77         0.66**†† 0.89

*(**) significant at 10 percent level (5 percent). – † (††) significantly different
from one at 10 percent (5 percent). Number of observations: Germany: 13, Japan:
12, United States: 10
Quelle: OECD (2000).




In the long run, the null β = 0 can be rejected for all three countries. The

specialization pattern of the German, Japanese and US automobile industry was

not reversed during the last 20 years. In the case of the United States, however,

ˆ
β was significantly different from one, which implies that the initial specialization

pattern weakened considerably. This confirms our view that in comparison to its

German and Japanese counterparts, the US automobile industry was initially to a

lesser extent structured according to its “natural” specialization profile and was,

hence, only ill-prepared to manage the growing competitive pressure from low-

income countries. The US automobile industry is also different with respect to

the long-run changes in the degree of specialization. The estimates of β / R are

above one in Germany and Japan, but below one in the United States. In other
                                        38


words, the degree of specialization rose in the German and Japanese automobile

industry and declined in the US automobile industry. Hence, a lower potential to

realize economies of scale could have contributed to the loss in international

competitiveness of the US automobile industry.


2.   Relative Price Developments in the German Automobile Industry


As we have shown before, the traditional producer countries can only avoid

adverse labor market effects in the automobile industry if they adjust to growing

competitive pressure from low-income countries by specializing in human capital

intensive segments of the value chain. It, thus, appears rather surprising that, as

concerns Germany during the 1990s, wages and employment developed more

favorably in the relatively labor intensive production of automotive parts and

components than in the relative human capital intensive automobile assembly

(Table 3 and Figure 5). Relative price developments reveal that these seemingly

contradictory results are due to an extraordinary restructuring process in the

former subsector.
                                         39



Figure 8 —      Price Ratios between Automobile Assembly and the Production of
                Automotive Parts and Components in the German Automobile
                Industry (1980 = 100)

  130
                                                                                   a
  125                                                   terms-of-trade ratio

  120
  115                                                    export-price ratio    a

  110
  105
  100
                                                                                         a
   95                                                               import-price ratio
   90
   85
   80
     1980    1982   1984   1986   1988    1990   1992        1994        1996          1998




aProduction of automotive parts and components relative to automobile assembly.

Source: VDA (b, var. issues)




Figure 8 shows that import prices in the production of automotive parts and

components declined more sharply and its export prices rose more steeply after

the opening-up of Central European reform countries. This indicates that the

subsector adjusted intensively to globalization in the 1990s. Imports increased

mainly in the low-end market of automotive parts and components while export

demand fuelled a restructuring towards human capital and technology intensive

products. The successful specialization strategy enabled the German producers
                                       40


of automotive parts and components to reap substantial benefits from

globalization.



V. Conclusions


The increasing integration of developing countries into the global division of

labor has put severe competitive pressure on various sectors in high-income

countries and triggered far-reaching restructuring processes. Textiles, steel and

ship-building are prominent cases in point. Despite persistent protection against

imports and high production subsidies, these sectors suffered declining wages

and dramatic losses of employment. By contrast, the automobile industry is more

likely to be on the "sunny" side of globalization since, taken as a whole, it is

technologically advanced and relatively human capital intensive. At first sight,

choosing this industry to assess the impact of increased competition from below

on the labor market situation in high-income countries seems hardly promising.


However, trade models predict that the gains and costs of globalization should

be unevenly distributed among the various employment groups and the various

subsectors of the automobile industry. Especially low-skilled workers and labor

intensive segments of the sectoral value chain should be vulnerable to competitive

pressure from low-income countries and face declining wages and employment.
                                         41


We proceeded in three steps, in order to unveil these more subtle labor market

effects of globalization.


We started by analyzing the intensity of competition from below in the

automobile industry. At the end of the 1990s, Germany, Japan and the United

States, i.e., the major traditional producer countries, still accounted for more than

half of global production and two fifth of global exports of automobiles and their

parts and components. Nevertheless, the automobile industry was affected by

globalization. Since the 1980s countries in Southern and Central Europe, South

East Asia and Latin America have significantly increased their share in world

production and world exports of automobiles. The emergence of new

competitors was frequently initiated and supported by foreign direct investment

of multinational companies. In the case of South Korea, however, it was mainly

due to industrial targeting by the government. On top of that, low-income

countries have become relevant suppliers of automotive inputs. Especially on a

regional level, outsourcing of relatively labor intensive segments of the value

chain has become a viable option for the automobile industries in Germany,

Japan and the United States.


In the second step, we traced the wage and employment trends in the German,

Japanese and US automobile industry since the late 1970s and linked these trends

to the globalization-induced competitive pressure. Compared to total
                                        42


manufacturing, automobile workers received a significant wage premium and

enjoyed a rising or at least stable employment level in all three countries. They

were, thus, among the winners of globalization. But the favorable wage and

employment trends mask substantial differences between the various subsectors

of the automobile industry. In the case of Japan and the United States, the

average wage level rose far more steeply in the relatively human capital intensive

automobile assembly than in the relatively labor intensive production of

automotive parts and components.


Furthermore, we found evidence that the labor market situation of low-skilled

automobile workers deteriorated in the traditional producer countries in the last

20 years. In Germany, the sectoral human capital intensity rose and the sectoral

relative wage of low-skilled workers fell. In the Japanese automobile industry, the

employment prospects of low-skilled workers deteriorated while their relative

wages remained fairly stable. Only in the United States the sectoral human capital

intensity did not reveal a clear trend. Even more surprisingly, the relative wage of

low-skilled automobile workers in the United States remained above its 1978 level

throughout the entire observation period. We then correlated the intrasectoral

wage and employment ratios with a number of indicators reflecting the intensity

of international competition. Apart from the US automobile industry, we found

Stolper-Samuelson-type adjustment to growing competitive pressure from low-

income countries.
                                       43


Finally, we analyzed the evolution of the subsectoral revealed comparative

advantages of the automobile industries in Germany, Japan and the United States

to inquire more deeply into the nature of globalization-induced restructuring

processes. Simple OLS regressions suggest that the relatively poor performance

of the US automobile industry in world markets vis-à-vis its German and

Japanese counterparts in the last 20 years can be explained by two factors: First,

the powerful United Automobile Workers’ Union (UAW) obstructed the

industry’s efforts to restructure towards its "natural" specialization profile.

Second, the degree of specialization declined in the US automobile industry,

which was in contrast to Germany and Japan. For these reasons, this industry

was ill-prepared to cope with competitive pressure from below and lost

international competitiveness.
                                         44



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